Myrtle Beach: "Your research on the affluent cites personal service as one of the top criteria impacting client loyalty," said Holly, who then posed an excellent question, "but isn't this rather basic? You would think every advisor strives to provide personalized service to all of her clients."
Holly's question sparked a discussion about what impact client loyalty can have on affluent word-of-mouth influence (a high-impact Rainmaking activitity). Well, just for the record, the impact is huge! In fact, you will struggle to penetrate your affluent clients' centers-of-influence if you do not excel in consistently delivering Ritz Carlton-quality service.
For several days this discussion was circling in my head and I could not shake it. The statement, You'd think every advisor strives to provide personalized service… prompted me to re-visit my Ritz-Carlton CREDO pocket card - a memento that I've been carrying around for over a decade (a gift that a Ritz-Carlton employee gave to me when I stayed at their Phoenix property). And all I could think to myself as I read the Ritz famous mantra "We Are Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen" prominently displayed on this pocket card, was "Wow!" How beautiful their motto is in its simplicity. Yet, it's definitely much easier said than done.
Opening the card, I was also reminded of "The Ritz-Carlton Basics," 20 simple principles for delivering personalized high-level service. All of them are very basic, common sense ideas, but they are not always common practice, so I'm going to share with you my own seven favorite Ritz Carlton Basics:
Ritz-Carlton Basics - Matt's Top Seven
- The Credo will be known, owned and energized by all employees.
- Our motto is: "We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen". Practice teamwork and "lateral service" to create a positive work environment.
- Each employee will continuously identify defects throughout the Hotel.
- Any employee who receives a customer complaint "owns" the complaint.
- Instant guest pacification will be ensured by all. React quickly to correct the problem immediately. Follow-up with a telephone call within twenty minutes to verify the problem has been resolved to the customer's satisfaction. Do everything possible not to lose a guest.
- Use proper telephone etiquette. Answer within three rings and with a "smile." When necessary, ask the caller, "May I place you on hold?" Do not screen calls. Eliminate call transfers when possible.
- Be an ambassador for your Hotel in and outside of the work place. Always talk positively. No negative comments.
Simply replace "hotel" with your financial practice / team and "guest-customer" with client and you have just built a bridge from the hospitality world to financial services. You might consider holding a team meeting to review these seven basics of Ritz Carlton-quality service and collectively rate yourselves using a simple grading system:
- Yes - we excel at this.
- N.I. - we do it, but it "needs improvement."
- No - we are not executing on this item.
Obviously, any Ritz-Carlton Basic that you rated N.I. or No needs immediate attention. What's not always so obvious is that you also need to make certain that you take advantage of your strengths. This simply means, don't take your service strengths for granted but work on making them better. It's always easier to strengthen a strength than to correct a weakness.
When it comes to consistently delivering great service you need to work on your strengths and weaknesses. This becomes very difficult if you have too many clients. For years we have coached to two service models; Ritz-Carlton standard (Platinum) for your affluent clients, and Gold standard for any remaining clients that are above your firewall (profitable but not top tier).
Like many advisors, Holly was being confronted with what she already knew. She had too many clients to consistently deliver these Ritz Carlton-level service to her affluent clients. She, like all the participants in our Rainmaker Weekend, had to look at the obvious head on; The Ritz-Carlton Basics are essential for your long-term success as a Rainmaker.
Pay attention to your affluent (personalized) service basics. This should be a work in progress. If you would like a list of all 20 of these Ritz-Carlton Basics, click here for the document.
Also, if you brought in 10 or more $1 million-plus clients over the past year and want to participate in one of our current research projects, visit 2007 Rainmaker Best Practices.
Once again, we want to thank all of you who have emailed comments and questions to us. We will continue to do our best to answer each one. If you have any topic suggestions or special requests, please contact Rich Santos, publisher of Registered Rep. and Trust & Estates magazines, at [email protected].